The Thunderscan story

I’m surprised I never got around to mentioned this, when [I promised I would][nans second story]. Since it’s been years, go back and read it, and come back. I’ll wait.

In high school, I owned a [Thunderscan][Thunderscan]. For those of you too lazy to click on the link, this was a device that would digitize photos by replacing the ink cartridge of your ImageWriter, [a dot-matrix printer][dot-matrix printer], popular with Macintosh computers of the era.

(For those of you too young to remember what a dot-matrix printer is: in the old days, our printers were slow enough that you could watch an episode of *[Cheers][Cheers]* waiting for it to print out an article or “graphics” —the latter of which was whatever came out of [Print Shop][theprintshop]. And they were so loud, that a popular accessory was huge muffled box to place the printer in, in order to contain what can only be described as the primal periodical scream of the then nascent personal computer, “Why the f*&k do I have to be tasked for the next half our printing up a sinfully ugly banner for [your terrible P.T.A Yard Sale][review the print shop]?”)

Now imagine something that did the reverse (put print into the computer) by scanning it line by line. And realize that a typical “line” of text back then was actually 24 “lines” to this scanner.

This was a Thunderscan.


### The Thunderscan story ###

One day, a bunch of friends were over my house shooting pool, and the fact that I had a sizeable stash of pornography came up.

“What??!” one asked, all wild-eyed.

“Well, when my brother went to college and I got back from summer school, there it was hanging in my closet.”

“A whole bag full??”

“Yeah, I think there is even a videotape. I’m not too sure.”

“You mean you haven’t looked at it?”

“Not really interested, but you have to admit the thought was nice.”

B—, the future class valedictorian piped up, “If you don’t want it, I could make a fortune lending it out to a neighbor.”

“Well, I can’t give it away because it’s not mine, but I can certainly lend it, let me go up and get it.”

So I went up to my room, opened my closet to get it, and it wasn’t there. *Maybe I put it in one of my brother’s old hiding places?* Nope. I couldn’t find it anywhere.

And then it hit me.

### A different time ###

One day (months before) a bunch of friends were over my house shooting pool and the subject of my Thunderscan had come up. Back then, nobody had heard of a digitizer.

“Could you digitize p0rn?” NS asked, all wild-eyed.

“Pornography is just a photo so I don’t see why not?”

“Show us!” he says.

I went upstairs into the closet, grabbed my brother’s old porn stash and brought it down to my mother’s office study. “Pick something, anything,” I said.

After a while, consensus emerged on a full-page spread.

“Hmm, this one is going to be difficult,” I noted as I put the image onto the rollers of the printer.

As the Imagewriter blared back and forth, we all stood staring as a greyscale image of a naked woman slowly, line-by-line, appeared on my mom’s computer.

Now it is a testament to how totally horn dog teenage boys are that we waited until it had finished scanning the entire breasts, before NS pronounced himself satisfied that the computer could, indeed, scan porn.

And if you’ve ever, ever owned a Thunderscan, you know that takes dedication.

(I should mention at the obvious point that NS was far more savvy than me as to the potential of computers and the later Internet.)

### Fast forward ###

“Uhh, I think I know where the porn is, are you absolutely sure you want it?”

“Yes.” B— says.

In the article mentioned at the top, you may have noted in passing that, N—, whose “breasts were like the sun,” was the editor of a competing newspaper at high school. As I mentioned there, I was the only person in the entire school with the computer, software, and ability to use desktop publishing software, I had given the pair permission to come over any time to produce an issue.

God, in addition to his funny sense of humor, has an incredible sense of the moment. He decided that would be the same day that B— asked to borrow my porn stash.

I walked into my mom’s office.

The co-editor was at the computer typing in the article; N— was sitting on the floor next to him dictating; right next to her knees, on the floor, was the long-forgotten porn stash, bag half-opened in the same manner NS had left it during his curation.

“Excuse me.” I said sheepishly. N— smiled politely. I grabbed the bag, and slinked away.

*This is totally unfair. First I stare at her breasts, and now she sees me picking up a half-opened bag of porn that was next to her. One of us is going to need lifetime psychiatric care.*

“I found the stuff you wanted B—!”

I said that last loud enough that N— could hear. *I’m going to make damn sure it’s not going to be me left holding the bag.*

So N—, wherever you are, I apologize for your psychiatric bill.

[review the print shop]: http://www.atarimagazines.com/compute/issue58/review_print_shop.html “Review: The Print Shop—Compute!”
[nans second story]: http://terrychay.com/article/really-bad-thoughts.shtml “Really Bad Thoughts”
[thunderscan]: http://folklore.org/StoryView.py?project=Macintosh&story=Thunderscan.txt “Thunderscan—Folkloreorg Macintosh Stories”
[dot-matrix printer]: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dot_matrix_printer “Dot matrix printer—Wikipedia”
[theprintshop]: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Print_Shop “The Print Shop”
[Cheers]: Cheers “Cheers”

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